How shares are made
Your box of vegetables has quite a history.
I hope to explain how we make your vegetable shares at TapRoot Farms. In some ways a box of various vegetables can seem like a simple thing, but it is not. Before I describe our share making process I first need to acknowledge the planning, seed purchasing, land preparation, seeding, transplanting, weeding, watering, harvesting and overall general effort it takes to grow vegetables (particularly on such a large scale). Your boxes of vegetables are not just quietly assembled. A tremendous amount of planning and work began years ago and continues to evolve.
We make vegetable shares three days a week. Our goal is to give you the freshest possible box. When I say “we” I am referring to a whole team of people who harvest and prepare all the items for your box. Farm staff prepare and assemble enough produce to make shares, with fresh items from both farm locations. Sometimes mornings are a bit of a panic but we always seem to get everything prepared. Tubs, trays, pallets and bins of vegetables are carried by hand or brought by forklift to our assembly area. It is indeed, an assembly line, but super effective.
Another critical element of the “we” I mentioned earlier is our amazing team from Applewicks. They join us on Mondays and Wednesdays for our busiest share making days. There are a lot of things I enjoy about the farm, but the hours we spend together making shares is my favourite. The task is large each day, but the teamwork and constant conversation always make it feel less like work. I tend to talk a lot, but my chatter always takes a backseat when Trish joins us from Applewicks.
For a year we have been flirting with the idea of listening to a radio while we all work, but always forget about it once we start talking. We talk about food, a lot. Many of the people involved in making shares receive a box as part of the CSA. We share your experience of receiving and opening the weekly box of mixed vegetables. We often comment on how great the boxes look when full. I have said, “This is the best box so far” as least six times this year.
I usually prepare the empty boxes in advance. This gives the team a bit of time to choose our tasks for the day. We chat and work steadily as boxes follow the line and have things added. Shares are stacked on pallets for immediate delivery or immediate refrigeration.
Monday morning and afternoon we assemble about 260 shares, 240 on Wednesday, and I assemble about 65 more at the end of the week for our Saturday members. While this is happening, fruit shares are being picked up from Noggins Corner Farm, eggs are being washed, meat shares are being assembled, and staple shares and flowers are prepared and added to a list of purchased add-ons we collect and manage to fit into a vehicle.
Mistakes are made despite our vigilance. I figure there are three possible explanations for why something in your box might be deemed a “Bad Apple.” See our policy!
A judgement error. Things good enough for one person may not be acceptable for another. We all look at the value in a vegetable differently.
An issue with the produce itself (my turnip from a couple of weeks ago also went off pretty quickly). Luckily this rarely happens.
A regrettable mistake.
Sometimes knowing some of the math involved in share making helps put things in perspective. Things are counted by the hundreds and even thousands. For example, this past week included about 560 heads of lettuce, bunches of cilantro, kohlrabi, green peppers, squash, pints and quarts of tomatoes, bags of basil, 1500 roma tomatoes, 1500 green onions, and over 2000 ears of corn and jalapeno peppers. Next week will be completely different, but still impressive.
I receive my veggie share on Wednesdays. And even though I have seen everything in almost every box and have lifted thousands of pounds of them, I still come home and dig into mine immediately. I hope many of you look forward to receiving your share as much as I do.
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